Sunday 23 July 2017

Gunman who shot himself in leg whilst escaping from scene of shooting is jailed for ten years

Inset: James Walsh
Inset: James Walsh

Alison O’Riordan

A gunman who shot himself in the leg whilst escaping from the scene of a shooting at a church carpark, has been jailed for ten years.

Earlier this month, James Walsh (30) with an address at Rahanine Manor, Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath but originally from Clondalkin pleaded guilty to possession of a pistol firearm with intent to endanger life at the Church of the Transfiguration, Bawnogue Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 on March 26, 2014.

Prosecution counsel, Mr Brendan Grehan SC, told the court on December 1 that this plea was acceptable to the DPP and that a nolle prosequi – a decision not to proceed– would be entered on another count of attempted murder of Michael Frazer (37) at the same place.

Mr Frazer, the victim, was shot twice before taking sanctuary at a garda station.

On Wednesday at the Central Criminal Court Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed a ten year sentence on Walsh and backdated it to when he went in to custody on December 5, 2014.

Before handing down sentence today Mr Justice McCarthy said it was important to emphasise that there was evidence in this case of the use of a firearm with intent to endanger life in the fact that there was a shooting and a person had two gun wounds.

"That person did attend a garda station for the purpose of obtaining sanctuary and he drove the car from where he had been shot to the garda station. He declined to afford permission to gardai to take up his medical records," he said.

"The absence of the injured party could be the case of Hamlet without the Prince," he said.

Mr Justice McCarthy said the evidence was of "very considerable strength" against the accused in this case. It was "circumstantial evidence" which can sometimes be considered weak evidence but this was not the case here.

The judge said a black jacket was found in the accused's back garden as well as a mobile phone found in the vicinity.

"It was possible to show that the accused was in the vicinity of the place where the injured party was shot with reference to the phone call made and the mobile phone that was seized. It is also possible to link the accused to the shooting with the firearms residue found," he said.

Mr Justice McCarthy also said that a "spent bullet" was found in the accused's car which was consistent with certain bullets found on the road in the vicinity of the Mini Cooper car.

"It is a singular case in as much as the victim of the offence does not wish to cooperate with gardai as he is a person known to gardai. This does not in any way diminish the seriousness of the crime. Courts are not in the business of tolerating individuals who use firearms to endanger life," he said.

The judge said there was not a great deal to say for Walsh other than him having a number of previous convictions.

He said that this was a plain case where a firearm was used to endanger life and so the appropriate sentence was between 12 and 15 years.

"In the accused's favour, he spent some two years in custody awaiting trial," he said.

In mitigation Mr Justice McCarthy said Walsh was a person who has used his time in prison to rehabilitate himself and it did not appear to be a situation where he "sought to polish up his situation" as he pleaded guilty when there was an absence of an obvious witness in the case.

Mr Justice McCarthy then sentenced Walsh to ten years in prison and backdated it from when he first went in to custody on December 5, 2014.  

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